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bottom of the hour now, 7:30 a.m. eastern time in newtown, connecticut. welcome, and welcome to our international viewers joining us from around the world. i'm ali velshi, you're watching cnn's special coverage of the connecticut school shooting. we are live in newtown, connecticut. here's what we know this morning about what happened at sandy hook elementary school. in about 30 minutes we expect authorities to hold a news conference right where i am and release the identities of the victims. police say 20 children between the ages of 5 and 10 were killed as well as six adults at the school including the principal
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and psychologist. sources say adam lanza was armed with three guns, two on him, one found in a car nearby. police say he got the guns from his mother who owned them. she was licensed to have them. she was found dead in her home about 2 1/2 miles from where i am now. every new detail helped paint a picture of a horrifying tragedy. cnn's anderson cooper explains how it unfolded moment by moment. >> all units, the individual i have on the phone is continuing to hear what he believes to be gun shots. >> reporter: the first word was chilling. it only got worse. >> they're reporting multiple fatalities involved in this shooting at the elementary school. >> reporter: with each new report, the horror deepened. >> reports say the number of dead closer to 30 than to 20, and sadly, most of them are children. >> reporter: every detail, every fact brought more sadness.
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each fresh piece of information a part of the picture, a school, kindergarten through fourth grade, a sanctuary that was supposed to be a place of safety torn apart. >> she heard the intercom came on the school and she heard a scream and she heard a gun shot -- two gun shots. and then the school went into lockdown. >> reporter: a student's teenage big brother describing the sounds of a gunman on the loose at sandy hook elementary. >> on and off duty troopers responded to the school, and with newtown police immediately upon arrival entered the school and began a complete active shooter search of the building. >> they arrived to carnage. the killer says a law enforcement source with detailed knowledge was dressed for battle in black fatigues and armed for mass murder with two pistols and a military-style rifle. in parts of the school, students were told to hide in corners. teachers risked their own lives to pull boys and girls to safety. >> i'm so grateful to the
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teacher who saved him. >> you think the teacher saved his life? >> she definitely did. he had bullets going by him and grabbed him and another child and pulled him into a classroom. >> eventually the kids were evacuated to a nearby fire house where frantic parents descended. >> it was terrifying. i'm still terrified, still in shock about it all. i still don't know everything that happened. i know there were some people missing taken to the hospital. >> his son was okay, his son's teacher was alive, as well. 20 other children and six adults were killed. the dead believed to include sandy hook school psychologist and the principal. police discovered another adult victim, the gunman's mother reportedly at home in newtown. the gunman too is dead. police say they fired no shots. a tight-knit community including a nurse nearby shocked, distraught. >> i see you've been crying. >> yes. >> is it because what you saw? >> one of the cops said it was the worst thing he'd ever seen
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in his entire career, but it was when they told the parents, all these parents were waiting for their children to come out. they'll thought they were, you know, still alive. there's 20 parents that were just told their children are dead. it was awful. >> awful. and late today, speaking for the nation but also as a father, an emotional president obama fought back tears. >> this evening, michelle and i will do what i know every parent in america will do, which is hug our children a little tighter and we'll tell them that we love them. and we'll remind each other how deeply we love one another. but there are families in connecticut who cannot do that tonight. and they need all of us right now. >> reporter: for more information about how you can help those affected, go to so as the minutes tick by, the weight of the shooting tragedy
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got heavier and heavier. first, word of the shooting at the sandy hook elementary school, then the magnitude. reports 26 people killed, 20 of them children, ages 5 to 10 years old. news strong enough to knock the wind right out of you. and for many of us, it really, really did. that was likely the same case for police who were at the scene. there were grief counselors not just for the families, but also for the first responders. investigators despite the sadness of it all had to keep on doing their jobs. joining me right now is security analyst mike brooks. first of all, mike, i have to ask you, how do investigators at a scene like this, how do they deal with their jobs while the scope of the tragedy is just staring them in the face? >> you know, john, law enforcement, first responders, they are all human also. and many of them have young like were killed there in the school. but you have to compartmentalize that and know that you are there to do a job. it's very, very hard.
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in fact, we heard the lieutenant from connecticut state police lieutenant vance say they were getting help for the first responders for the law enforcement officers who were there who were the first ones in. they were getting them psychological help. if they did need it. and i think that's important they do have crisis intervention teams there to do on scene diffusings and to do a full stress debriefing should it happen. because, john, these are the people while they're processing that scene, they can't look away. >> walk me through the logistics of what's been happening over the last eight hours. we've been saying one of the truly sad things is the bodies of the kids were still there overnight. the victims still lying there. the suspected shooter dead believed to be obviously. it is a crime scene, though, so what are investigators looking for at this point? >> they are looking for any little piece of evidence that needs to be gathered. they're taking photographs, they're videotaping. they're doing diagrams. you figure you have -- a major
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scene with over 26 deaths, john. that is just an unbelievable scene. i've worked bombing scenes where there have been thousands of people injured, hundreds of people killed, but you have little kids and, still, it's very difficult. but they've got a job to do. yes, the shooter is dead, the alleged shooter is dead, is there anyone else involved in this? we don't know for sure. but it's the law enforcement's job to go in there and do a thorough and accurate accounting of exactly what happened. there's so much evidence inside that school, outside the school possibly, his car. and then the identification of the children because they have done a preliminary identification. they know who these children are. the parents knew who they are. they had law enforcement assigned to them to keep them up to date. but, by law they have to do an identification, a thorough -- a positive identification of who these children are. and we're probably going to hear about that this morning. but, again, just a tough job for
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law enforcement, the first responders, fire, ems, and these crime scene technicians from the connecticut state medical examiner's office who have been in there all night documenting every little bit of evidence they find. >> so, mike, let's rewind a little bit to the moments after it begins to happen. and what the police, what the first responders are trained to do. and let me ask you about this. because people have been asking me about this question over the last several hours, evacuation versus lockdown. what's the right way for the school to handle it? to get the kids out right away? or is it to stay in place and get them to a safe place in the classroom? >> well, they train for these things. we know they had their annual evacuation drill back in october at sandy hook elementary school, john. but it's what the situation dictates. we've heard so many stories now of teachers pulling kids out of the hallways and sheltering in place, if you will, while they waited for law enforcement to come, law enforcement came, one
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teacher still didn't think it was really law enforcement asked to see their badges, slid their badge under the door. and they said if you really are law enforcement, you can open the doer with the key, they did and got the children out. i was listening, john, yesterday to the connecticut state police frequency while all this was happening, while units were responding to the scene and have been listening to some of the first units from newtown police that were there. and, you know, you train for an active shooter scenario, but you hope you never have to use it. but sounds, john, that these first responders, the law enforcement, when they went in, they knew exactly what they had to do. and their job was to make sure these kids were safe, that these kids were either hunkered down, but they were going after that gunman. and try to neutralize this person. but we heard that law enforcement did not fire a shot. but the coordination between law enforcement, fire, and ems sounded like it was textbook. even though there were so many victims inside that school.
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>> mike brooks, thank you so much for being with us this morning. the investigation into this or horrific scene, this awful tragedy, it does continue. meanwhile, she is being remembered as caring, someone who loved her students, more on the principal who lost her life in this tragic connecticut school shooting. but first, while investigators families and the nation try to make sense of this entire situation, we will be talking about the victims, the victims of this tragedy, who they are, and we'll piece together some moments of their lives. we'll be right back. >> this is a very, very tragic, tragic scene for everybody. certainly our hearts are broken for the families here. >> well, you know, about 9:30, 9:40, we heard noises, and the announcement system was still on, so it didn't go off.
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you could hear what sounded like pops, gun shots. >> her teacher managed to take two children out of the hallway. pull them into the classroom, lock the door and move everybody to the other side of the room. >> we just told the little boy about his sister now. who am i going to play with, he said? i have nobody to play with now. excuse me. >> when your first grader goes to bed and says, mommy, is anyone from my class last year? are they all okay? are they all okay? and you look at them and say i'm not really sure. >> you can never be prepared for this kind of incident. what has happened, what has transpired at that school building will leave a mark on
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to our viewers in the united states and around the world, this is cnn, we are live in newtown, connecticut this morning. this sad saturday morning where an unspeakable tragedy, a school shooting that claimed the live of 20 children and six adults has rocked this town to its core. earlier i spoke with the father of one child who survived the shooting, listened to what he had to say to john berman about his daughter is coping. we'll hear from him in a moment. the first thing i want to do, though, is go to nick valencia. because nick is working on information about the victims of this tragedy. we spent some time talking about the shooter. but we are really worried about the victims. 18 children and six adults were shot on-site.
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another two children died in hospital. let's go to nick valencia at the cnn center in atlanta. nick, two of the adults inside the school have been identified. what do we know about them? >> as you mentioned all morning, this story really is about the victims. two of the names that we know so far, two of the adults, six adults were shot in all, two names that we have been able to confirm, dawn hochsprung, she was the principal at sandy hook elementary school since 2010. she's described, ali, as someone you would want educating your children. sort of the teacher's teacher. she was very involved educator, memorable for her enthusiasm and that wonderful smile you see there. she spent her career rising through the ranks of the connecticut education system, working in various elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools. those that know her and knew her remember her as somebody who created an environment that made you feel accepted, made you feel important.
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she was just 47 years old, ali. and she leaves behind two daughters and three stepdaughters. also, one of the adult victims we are learning is mary sherlock, 56 years old. she was the school psychologist and headed up the crisis intervention program for the school. those that knew her say she was a person that people would go to in a time like this and now they can't turn to her. she's lost, perished, one of the 26 victims of the school shooting in sandy hook elementary school. she's remembered as somebody who was an expert in psychology. she had her master's degree, also very involved in the community, ali, worked with disabled adults in the community there in connecticut, her -- she was a family woman, as well. we learned a lot about her from some personal posts where she wrote she enjoyed gardening, going out to the theater. she also leaves behind some family members. 31 years she was married to her husband bill. she also leaves behind two daughters, both in their 20s. ali?
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>> nick, i don't know if we've got the pictures at cnn, but right next to me, we are setting up for the press conference which should start in about 15 minutes or so or less. everybody's getting ready. that's where we're expecting -- we were told last night at 8:00 eastern that starting at 8:00 this morning we would start to get more information about the victims. we're going to be waiting on that and that's going to keep you very busy when that happens. was one of the first people we heard from yesterday on cnn was a parent who was with both of those people you just talked about in the school when the gunman opened fire. what did that parent say? >> just a terrifying, terrifying story, ali. we understand that some time after 9:30 there at sandy hook elementary, the principal and the school psychologist were there along with the vice principal and a parent who cnn spoke to, at which point they
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heard a loud pop, pop, pop, which, of course, was the gunfire from the suspected gunman. they went into the hallway, ali, to investigate what was going on. both sherlock and hochsprung did not return. >> all right, nick, we'll stay with you throughout the course of the morning as you learn more. you'll be watching as we will very closely in just a few moments. it's going to be a very, very important news conference happening right next to me. john berman in newtown, connecticut, with me. at the town square. john, this is going to be devastating in a few minutes. because there are many in this town who know they have their children many in town that know 20 children and six adults were killed. and some time after the next 10 or 15 minutes, they're going to hear those names and that will open up a whole new set of wounds for this town, wounds that have hardly even had a chance to start healing since
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last night. it's going to be a tough time in the next few minutes, john. >> i think you're absolutely right, ali. i think those names are going to make this reality all the more painful for the people here. i'm standing in front of, by the way, the st. rose of lima catholic church where there was a vigil. more than 1,000 people in this community gathered here to be together to grieve together. so many of the people here knew people who were at the school, so many people here directly affected by what went on. earlier i spoke to the father of one child who survived the shooting. and it was a tough conversation. listen to what he had to tough conversation. listen to what he had to say about how his daughter is copi with the situation and how he found out what was going on. >> she's doing surprisingly well after what she saw. >> how did this go down for you yesterday? when did you first get word that
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something horrible was happening at the school? what did they tell you and what did they ask you to do? >> i work an hour-plus away and my wife called me to say there was a shooting. she had already rushed to the school to get my daughter, they made their way to the firehouse. i was able to get to the firehouse eventually and at that time it was just too early. we had no idea about all the children and the fact of who had died. >> you knew your daughter was okay, though, correct? >> thank god we knew she was okay and just gave her a big hug and just got her out of there. >> declan, so many parents across the country, including me, frankly, want to know how to talk to our kids about this. our kids didn't go through this, has your daughter asks you any
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questions about what happened? >> well, that's the very difficult question. you know, this is all new. so all we really can do, and i think is the best thing, is to be honest and let her know what we know. try to talk to them and try to reinforce that the bad guy that did this is gone forever. because, of course, all they are talking about is not wanting to go to school again. both of my children. i have a 10-year-old who was in another school on lockdown as well. and they are just really, really freaked out. as you can imagine. >> reporter: absolutely. they are talking to you, they don't want to go back to school again. did you daughter tell you anything about what it was like to be in the school as this was happening? >> she was in her reading class,
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and it was a separated class with just, usually there's just a few kids in there, and she heard a bunch of banging, what sounded like hammering, she said. and her teacher, her reading teacher, grabbed my daughter as well as a fellow teacher that was in the reading room, and actually locked them in the bathroom and they just heard lots of shots. i think my daughter said she heard screaming and eventually the police were banging on the door and were able to escort them into the hallway, get them out towards, unfortunately, where from what i understand, where most of the shootings happened, which is a pretty rough scene from what i understand from what my daughter told me. and then they were able to whisk them away to the firehouse. and i believe my daughter, from what she tells me, was the first kid to get to the firehouse.
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>> reporter: that was declan is the father of an 8-year-old girl who survived this horrible event. he's talking to her and his 10-year-old son with so many questions. the saddest thing i have heard is that his kids don't want to go back to school. as family and friends try to come to grips with this tragedy, many are turning to their faith for answers. cnn's anderson cooper asked a local church leader how he helps the people in mourning. >> what can you really say? many of them just said to me, thank you for being here with us. we pray together, we hugged each other there, were a lot of tears. certainly a lot of emotion. and it has not really settled into their lives that their child has been taken from them. i must say for the parents i spoke with today there was a tremendous amount of love for these children. and i know the days ahead are going to be very difficult and we as a community, certainly as
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a church community, will be present to them. but the words, what can you say at a time like this? >> there are probably a lot of parents wrestling around the country and around the world right now with what are they going the say to their children who ask them questions about this? what will you recommend for people to say to their kids, not kids from newtown who were at the school, but just who hear about this and want to know, are they safe about what happened? >> i think that's the one thing you have to ensure them about. some circumstances are beyond any human control, but we have to teach the children to trust. i know it's a difficult world in which we live and it is very difficult to trust everyone, but they have to have faith. and they have to have faith in god and faith in each other. and i hope that these parents will certainly learn from this. once again, the value of family and keep priorities straight. the children need to know they are loved and they are in
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environments that can be safe and an environment to grow up to be productive citizens. i don't know how you take the fear out of a child's heart except by love, and these children today were certainly deeply loved by their parents. >> about 1,000 people in the newtown community packed this church for a vigil inside and outside. some people were crying there, were hugs and so many people praying for the lives of those who were lost. so many of the survivors, obviously, are still in shock today, but at least one of the teachers at sandy hook elementary school kept her cool even after hearing the gunshots. janet balmer also spoke to anderson cooper. >> about 9:30, 9:40, we heard announcements and the announcement system was still on. so you could hear what sounded like pops, gunshots, of course i'm not going to tell that to 5-year-olds, so i said to them,
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well, we are going over to a safe area and we are going to, you know, we read a story and kept them calm. we did a lockdown drill and closed the doors, locked and covered the windows, you know, kept the children with us. i have other adults in my -- >> i find that amazing -- i find that amazing, fearing that you hear gunshots, you were able to have the composure to sit down to read to your students. i mean, that's extraordinary. >> that's what you have to do with 5-year-olds because you can't lose it. i've been doing this for a long time. it's my 18th year of teaching and my job was to keep them safe. i didn't know, there was no announcement of what was going on. mynstinct was it wasn't good. we kept them calm and stayed in the room until there was banging at the door until it was the police and the troopers and whoever was there. and they had us exit the building. >> reporter: it's our job to keep them safe, she said.
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we also heard from another teacher inside her classroom during this awful morning. in an interview with abc news, first grade teacher kaitlin roig talked to her students. >> i need you to know i love you very much and it is going to be okay. i thought we were all going to die. you know, i don't know if that's okay. teachers, i want them to know someone loved them and i wanted that to be one of the last things they heard. not the gunfire in the hallway. it was so horrible. >> reporter: so many of us look to teachers as heroes all the time, frankly, but many parents last night were thankful for the brave teachers, especially thankful for helping get their children to safety. one daughter spoke to her mother about what it was like inside the sandy hook high school.
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her mother shared that story with anderson. >> she did mention that she did, of course, hear gunshots. they were on the same floor. she, her teacher, managed to take two children out of the hallway, pull them into the classroom, lock the door and move everybody over to the other side of the room. it was very confusing, as it would be in any of these cases, to go and pick up your child once we figured out that everybody was dispatched to sandy hook elementary. i was one of the first parent there is along with a friend of mine. we both figured out what was going on and ran over there. they were smart to get them out of the building and moved them over to the firehouse, but you could see my daughter's teacher was visibly upset as well as many of the children there. and she did a very heroic thing and pulled two kids out of the hallway and just shoved them the class and locked that door up. and the kids are going to suffer from

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CNN December 15, 2012 4:30am-5:00am PST

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TOPIC FREQUENCY John 7, Ali 6, Us 6, Connecticut 5, Newtown 5, Sandy 4, Nick 4, Cnn 3, Anderson Cooper 3, America 2, Pop 2, Lockdown 2, John Berman 2, Mike 2, Mike Brooks 2, Dawn Hochsprung 1, Janet Balmer 1, Atlanta 1, Mourning 1, Tobligations 1
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